The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

 |  Drama, Sport  |  8 October 1962 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,360 users  
Reviews: 51 user | 35 critic

A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs... See full summary »



(screenplay), (short story)
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview:
Avis Bunnage ...
Mrs. Smith
Joe Robinson ...
Dervis Ward ...
Topsy Jane ...
Julia Foster ...


A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs, reveries of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor's prize runner. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Sport


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Release Date:

8 October 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rebel with a Cause  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Tony Richardson later noted that by not being based in a major studio, he was able to hand-pick his crew and get a much more enthusiastic group of colleagues together while still complying with union regulations. See more »


When the boys are doing gardening work one character calls another "you mug" (meaning gullible idiot). This is incorrectly recorded in the subtitles as "you muppet" but the word "muppet" - meaning an idiot - was not in use when the film was made. See more »


[first lines]
Colin Smith: Running was always a big thing in our family, specially running away from the police. It's hard to understand. All I know is that you've got to run, running without knowing why, through fields and woods. And the winning post's no end, even though the barmy crowds might be cheering themselves daft. That's what the loneliness of a long distance runner feels like.
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Referenced in Children of Heaven (1997) See more »


Guitar Music in Dormitory
Music by Bill Bramwell
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User Reviews

The Loveliness of the Black & White Cinema
2 October 2002 | by (Minnesota, USA) – See all my reviews

Rambling thoughts: A very good movie, really capturing the sense of futility of lower class British existence. The desolate beauty of gray, cold and damp England comes through in wonderful ranges of color; despite being a black and white film, there is a huge variety of tone in the photography. You can almost smell the wet leaves of the forests and hills, and feel the cold of the morning air as you follow the runners on their daily jogs. England's rich heritage of distance running makes it an apt subject. Distance running, which I do enjoy myself, is primarily a solitary activity, designed for bona-fide introverts, "angry young men", obsessive individuals who do not mind pain, and in some cases, may actually enjoy it. England, with its crummy weather, economy, history and hugely varied terrain, is particularly well-suited to the sport. Courtenay is a treasure; we are so fortunate to still have him around. It is a wonder to gaze upon his youthful gauntness, and then to see how his appearance has evolved over the years. Really sharp viewers will be able to spot a very young Inspector Morse, John Thaw, as one of the young inmates.

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